The old African proverb says, “It take as a village to raise a child.” In modern times, this is a more profound principle than ever.
My biggest focus right now is to grow the village of influence and try to keep myself from becoming the village idiot in the process.
My village is filled with wonderful people of influence. My mother, grandmothers, extended Aunts, fiancé, his family, cousins, and even an 80 year old surrogate grandmother who loves my daughter to pieces.
Recently, I decided to add another person to the village. A Mentor.
Research shows that girls who have mentors during their teen years do better in school and have more positive life outcomes.
In a few weeks, my daughter will begin working with a mentor who is finishing her practicum at a local University. This mentorship relationship will focus on preparing my daughter for her rite of passage into becoming a young woman. The mentor will focus on helping her to plan for the future while staying rooted in the present.
As a mom, I’ve always thought this would mostly be my job. While this is a noble inclination, I have quickly learned it is not the right inclination. We can’t do it alone and we may not always be able to do it with just the people in our familiar little village. Sometimes, as teens begin to explore their own independence outside of the village, new additions to the village can add keen insight those of us in the village do not see.
To give my daughter a long-term strategic advantage, I’ve decided to allow another trusted voice to enter the arena and share the baton of influence. The mentor will also work directly with me behind the scenes to make sure the lines of communication stay open.
I know this mentor will say many of the same things I will say.
She will do many of the things that I will do, but her most powerful asset will be that she’s not as 100% invested in the outcome as I am.
This means my daughter will see her as a more neutral party. Teens love neutral.
The mentor can show patience where I might show frustration. Or, ask probative questions to develop my daughter’s thinking and problem solving skills, instead of giving her answers.
I will always be Mom, but my role and influence is shifting. I no longer have to be problem-fixer in-chief. She is ready to start figuring it out on her own and a mentor is a safe and holistic way to help her do that.
I think every Mom should explore adding a mentor to the village.
What are your thoughts on using a mentor to help develop your children’s internal life?
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